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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

 

The Ghost Writer aka 'The Ghost' [Blu-ray]

 

(http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/polanski.htm, 2010)

 

 

Optimum on September 20th, 2010

 

 

Kinowelt on September 16th, 2010

 

Fox Pathe on September 8th, 2010

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Pathé

Video: Summit Entertainment vs. Optimum/Kinowelt/Studio Canal

 

Disc:

Region: 'A' (Summitt) 'B' (European) (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:08:29.702  / 2:08:31.670

Disc Size: 37,937,664,403 bytes / 45,165,683,371 bytes

Feature Size: 32,082,290,688 bytes / 30,336,055,296 bytes

Video Bitrate: 27.930 Mbps  / 23.99 Mbps

Chapters: 18 / 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case inside a cardboard case

Release date: August 3rd, 2010 / September 2010

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 2894 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2894 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps

 

DTS-HD Master Audio English 2904 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2904 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio German 2813 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2813 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), Spanish, none

English OR German OR French, none

 

Extras:

• An Interview with Roman Polanski (8:38 in HD!)
The Ghost Writer: Fiction or Reality? (10:46 in HD!)
The Cast of The Ghost Writer (11:48 in HD!)

DVD edition on opposite side of the disc

 

• The Ghost Writer: Fiction or Reality? (10:46 in HD!)
• The Cast of The Ghost Writer (11:48 in HD!)

World Premiere in Berlin (1:52)

Press Conference to Berlinale (36:33 in HD!)

• Interviews with McGregor (2:11), Brosnan (2:53), Harris (3:58), Olivia Williams (3:23), Polanski (8:33 in HD!)

Trailer (2:17 in HD!)

• Photo Gallery (1:30 in HD!)

 

Bitrate:

Summit Entertainment - Region 'A' Blu-ray TOP vs. Optimum/Kinowelt/Studio Canal - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Description: When a gifted ghostwriter (Ewan McGregor) is hired to write the memoirs of former British Prime Minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan), he quickly finds himself trapped in a web of political and sexual intrigue. Lang is implicated in a scandal over his administration's harsh tactics, and as the ghostwriter digs into the politician's past, he discovers secrets that threaten to jeopardize international relations forever. Co-starring Olivia Williams and Kim Cattrall, it is a taut and shocking thriller from acclaimed director Roman Polanski (The Pianist).

 

Summit Entertainment - Region 'A' Blu-ray TOP vs. Optimum/Kinowelt/Studio Canal - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

The Film:

There is also a Hitchcock touch in visuals where an incriminating note is passed from hand to hand; the scene is so well done that it distracts from the fact that the Ghost didn't need the information in the note to arrive at the same inference.

There are a few other loose ends. The film seems to have a high incidence of black cars designed to be used as murder weapons. It's far from clear what Ruth's emotional state is on one rainy night. The Ghost himself seems too much a lightweight to explain his daring sleuthing. But the performances are so convincing in detail that they distract us from our questions. McGregor's character has no family, little pride and much insouciance, but is very smart and doesn't enjoy his intelligence being insulted. And Olivia Williams projects the air of a wife who is committed to her husband in more than expected ways.

"The Ghost Writer" is handsome, smooth and persuasive. It is a Well-Made Film. Polanski at 76 provides a reminder of directors of the past who were raised on craft, not gimmicks, and depended on a deliberate rhythm of editing rather than mindless quick cutting. The film immerses you in its experience. It's a reminder that you can lose yourself in a story because all a film really wants to do is tell it.

Excerpt from Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun-Times located HERE

 


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
 

The Ghost Writer doesn't seem to excel in any one visual area on Blu-ray  but it does appear consistent and equally healthy in all-around image quality. Detail, color and contrast are all adept enough to surmise that this is authentic to the theatrical presentation. There is no evidence of digital manipulation and hints of grain exist but is a shade more blotchy that I would like. There are some nice sequences on the island - beach dunes and wild grasses. The image is reasonably smooth without a lot of texture and only a few significant instances of depth. This Blu-ray appears to be an adequate transfer - dual-layered with a reasonable bitrate. It supported the film for a wonderful and very enjoyable presentation.

 

I can't tell any strong differences in the video quality between either release. Technically they are very close as well - with a similar file size and bitrate. NOTE: The Optimum starts with the "Ghost" title (see above) - and I am unsure of why this was changed.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Summit Entertainment - Region 'A' Blu-ray TOP vs. Optimum/Kinowelt/Studio Canal - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

Summit Entertainment - Region 'A' Blu-ray TOP vs. Optimum/Kinowelt/Studio Canal - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Summit Entertainment - Region 'A' Blu-ray TOP vs. Optimum/Kinowelt/Studio Canal - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Summit Entertainment - Region 'A' Blu-ray TOP vs. Optimum/Kinowelt/Studio Canal - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

It's hard to really critique audio these days as the modern tracks are virtually flawless renderings. All we can say about the DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 2894 kbps is that it supports the film in both the more dynamic areas as well as the subtle ones - and there are a lot of the latter. The track wouldn't be considered aggressive but the score by Alexandre Desplat (who is getting a lot of work these days) sneaks in with amazing clarity while deftly augmenting the suspense and dramatic elements of the narrative. There are optional English and Spanish and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.

 

Again the audio sounds exactly the same on the European edition as it does on the US release - and the technicals bear that out. This Region 'B' offers a lossless German DUB as an option.

 

NOTE: Although it has been stated that the US version of The Ghost Writer had the audio self-censored by Summit Entertainment - i.e. by removing/overdubbing curse words - I, honestly never noticed at all. I'll do some side-by-side to see if the European version has this as well. I didn't recall noticing in my viewing but at 1 hour 10-minutes on the Region 'B' disc Olivia Williams does say the word "Fuck"... and at 36:39 the 'C' word is used (gentleman leaving the bar) in the UK Blu-ray - this is dubbed in the US version to 'asshole'. (Thanks Dan!)

 

 

 

Extras :

Not as much as I had hoped after my entertaining viewing but we have three featurettes running about 1/2 hour in total - all in HD. The most played will probably be the interview with Roman Polanski although it's clear he could have spoken at great length about the production - certainly there would be enough for a commentary if he was more able to let loose. The Ghost Writer: Fiction or Reality? covers the link of the film plot to reality and conspiracy minded buffs will enjoy indulging in this 10-minutes. The Cast of The Ghost Writer is standard fare for 11-minutes of interviews and discussion of casting etc. The disc is dual-sided with the DVD version being on the opposite side.

 

 

This area seems to have the most differences - the European package has the same 3 video supplements as the US (about 1/2 hours worth) but lacks the SD edition on the opposite side of the disc. However, it also adds some footage of the World Premiere in Berlin, an interesting 1/2 hour Press Conference to Berlinale plus some short soundbyte interviews with McGregor (2:11), Brosnan (2:53), Harris (3:58), Olivia Williams (3:23). NOTE: This is where it tucks in the duplicate 8-minute Polanski interview. There is a trailer (2:17 in HD!) and photo gallery (1:30 in HD!). So the Region 'B' offers somewhat more in terms of extras.

 

Summit Entertainment - Region 'A' Blu-ray LEFT vs. Optimum/Kinowelt/Studio Canal - Region 'B' - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

 
 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
This was a fantastic thriller - justifiable acclaim is buried under all the endless chatter on the director's current woes. 'Politics' is frequently used as a strongly negative reference ("There is so much politics at work..." - "It was all politics..." etc.) and the style of the film itself harkens to the unsavory aspects of that, now, caustic word. This is brilliantly directed and a fabulous story that is identifiable in the political climate of only a few years back. I wasn't expecting "The Ghost Writer" to be so mysterious, suspenseful and intriguing. Performances are magnificent. I was extremely impressed with the Blu-ray film presentation. The Ghost Writer is so good that I thought it deserved much more in terms of extras - but as it is we still strongly recommend for a great night in the home theater!

 

Loved this just as much the second time. You may confidently purchase the Region 'B' edition. One of the best Blu-ray thrillers of the year! 

Gary Tooze

July 31st, 2010

September 2010

 

 

 

Optimum on September 20th, 2010

 

 

Kinowelt on September 16th, 2010

 

Fox Pathe on September 8th, 2010


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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